While Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has been playing coy all week regarding the possibility of defensive end J.J. Watt playing Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams, the general belief is that Watt will be activated from reserve/injured Monday afternoon and then be active for the game.
However, the “report” from NFL Media that Watt will travel with the team to Los Angeles is hardly breaking news.
That’s because Watt has routinely made road trips with the team after he injured his shoulder in late October when there was no chance he would play.
Watt was placed on reserve/injured Nov. 6, which was 13 days after he was injured against the Houston Texans on Oct. 24. By rule, the earliest he could have returned was after the Nov. 21 game in Seattle. Yet, Watt was with the team for that game.
National reports from media “insiders” often contradict each other and actually only serve to confuse the public they supposedly serve.
However, that becomes mere collateral damage when the aim is not necessarily to be accurate, but only to be first on Twitter.
The situation isn’t helped when some teams refuse to communicate the true status of players, which gives license to national reporters to seek sources that often have agendas for the “information” they leak.
What’s troubling is when reporters for the league-owned “media” arm are engaged in the charade in an environment where money is being gambled on games or players while teams are going into business with betting houses but aren’t always forthcoming on injury reports.
We were all in the dark when Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray missed three games with a high-ankle sprain that was never acknowledged until after he returned to play.
Yet, there was constant speculation whether he would play or not, and the team encouraged it by listing him as questionable each week, including the first game after he suffered the injury on Oct. 28 against Green Bay when at best he should have been considered doubtful.
When wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins injured his knee on Dec. 13 against the Rams, there was a wide variety of reports regarding the time he would miss and the team never revealed when he had surgery.
One Sunday morning during the absence of running back James Conner recently, a report from a national reporter said he would likely play that day, but of course that didn’t happen.
It’s admittedly frustrating not only for those that cover teams locally because we often are forced to rely on potentially suspect national reports, but also for fans that simply hope for an accurate assessment of a player’s availability.
In the case of Watt, we can count on hearing a myriad of reports Monday while knowing that his presence with the team is not unusual or is actually news.
The only “news” would have been if he didn’t travel with the team.